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Discover the Unknown: Strange but True Facts about Minocqua, WI

Nestled amid the tranquil forests of Oneida County and established in 1889, Minocqua, WI, holds secrets that captivate both the heart and the imagination. This charming town, affectionately dubbed "The Island City," thrives on a storied past, transitioning gracefully from a bustling logging town to an idyllic resort destination where nature and nostalgia converge.


graphic showing wild animals in Northwoods


Today, Minocqua welcomes visitors with its blend of natural splendor and intriguing tales, such as those surrounding the World's Largest Penny and the legendary Snowmy Kromer. With residents whose numbers swell each summer to embrace the town's vibrant mix of outdoor activities, the spirit of Minocqua, Wisconsin, is boundless and inviting.

As readers embark on this written journey through the town of Minocqua, they will uncover the heartwarming narrative of the World's Largest Penny and the snow-cloaked mythos of Snowmy Kromer, the town's 30-foot snowman emblem.


The majesty of the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest beckons, while the lure of Minocqua's rich arts and culture paints a picture of a community that's as endearing in its history as it is in its contemporary allure. So, fasten your seatbelts for an intimate exploration of Minocqua, WI, and discover the allure that has captivated visitors for generations.



Minocqua's Transformation from Logging Town to Resort Destination


In the late 19th century, the town of Minocqua, WI, began its journey as a logging community. The Ojibwe word "Minocqua," meaning "Good Woman," was adopted as the town's name, hinting at the nurturing spirit that would later define its transformation into a resort haven. The Ojibwe and early European settlers were the first to recognize the area's natural beauty, a trait that would eventually draw in visitors from far and wide.


logs

  • Logging and Railroad Expansion (1887-1920s): The initiation of the logging industry in 1887 brought about the development of railroad tracks, which were essential for transporting timber. The Milwaukee Road railroad company emerged as a pivotal force, initially providing access to the timber and later facilitating the arrival of sportsmen and tourists. This period of industrial activity was intense but short-lived; within a decade, the logging industry had depleted the area's resources, prompting a significant shift in Minocqua's economic focus.

  • The Birth of a Vacation Destination (1920s-Present): With its rich waterfront and scenic landscapes, Minocqua began to transform into a vacation destination during the 1920s. The business district, having been rebuilt after a major fire in 1912, now featured landmarks such as Bosacki’s Boathouse, the Thirsty Whale, Torpy Park, and the Belle-Isle building. These establishments became the cornerstones of Minocqua's civic center, The Island, and played a crucial role in attracting visitors seeking leisure and respite.

  • Outdoor Recreation and Community Landmarks (1977-Present): The Bearskin State Trail, completed in 1977, further solidified Minocqua's status as a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Offering a variety of recreational activities like hiking, biking, and snowmobiling, the trail became a year-round attraction. Today, the town of Minocqua continues to thrive as a beloved Minocqua, WI destination, where the legacy of its early days blends seamlessly with the modern pursuit of relaxation and adventure.


As Minocqua, WI transitioned from its logging roots to a burgeoning resort destination, the community's resilience and adaptability became its hallmark. The town's ability to reinvent itself while preserving its picturesque charm is a testament to the enduring spirit of Minocqua, Wisconsin.



The World's Largest Penny and Its Heartwarming Story


In the heart of Woodruff, Wisconsin, stands a remarkable testament to the power of small contributions leading to monumental achievements. The World's Largest Penny is not merely a colossal coin but a symbol of the town's collective effort and the enduring legacy of a beloved local physician, Dr. Kate Pelham Newcomb.


Dr. Kate in snowshoes
Image courtesy of Minocqua.org

This concrete replica, measuring a staggering 10 feet in diameter and weighing 17,452 pounds, is a tangible reminder of the extraordinary 1953 fundraising stunt that galvanized a community to build a much-needed hospital.


  • The Million Penny Parade: The drive to raise funds for the hospital took the form of the Million Penny Parade, a campaign that captured the imagination of the nation. Encouraged by Dr. Newcomb, local schoolchildren diligently saved their pennies, and their efforts snowballed, attracting donations from all 50 states and various foreign countries. This initiative did not just meet its goal; it surpassed it, collecting 1.7 million pennies, which amounted to an impressive $17,000 at that time—an achievement that is (celebrated to this day) in Minocqua, Wisconsin.


The story of the World's Largest Penny is interwoven with the lives of those it helped. The schoolchildren who once gathered their pennies are now the senior residents of the assisted living facility located just behind this iconic landmark.


The legacy of their youthful endeavor continues to inspire the town of Minocqua and its visitors, showcasing the remarkable impact of community spirit and the extraordinary difference one individual can make. Dr. Newcomb's vision and the relentless efforts of the Minocqua residents are honored at the Dr. Kate Museum, established in 1988, a place where the history and heart of this endeavor are (preserved for future generations).


The World's Largest Penny is more than just a roadside attraction; it's a beacon of inspiration for the town of Minocqua and beyond. Open for viewing 24 hours a day, it stands on the grounds of the former Arbor Vitae Woodruff School, inviting visitors to reflect on the collective power of a community's dedication and the indomitable spirit of individuals like Dr. Kate Newcomb.


This monumental penny serves as a reminder that even the smallest contributions can lead to the (creation of the World's Largest Things), and that the dreams of a visionary can indeed become a concrete reality.



Snowmy Kromer, Minocqua's Legendary Snowman


In the wintry heart of the town of Minocqua, a towering figure of mirth and magic rises from the snow, greeting visitors and residents alike with its whimsical charm. Snowmy Kromer, Minocqua's legendary 30-foot snowman, stands proudly near the Let's Minocqua Welcome Center, donning a custom-designed size 96 Stormy Kromer cap—a beacon of winter joy that has become an iconic symbol of the town's festive spirit (Minocqua's Winter Activities).


Snowmy Kromer in Minocqua, Wisconsin
Image courtesy of Minocqua.org

  • A Tradition of Community: The legacy of Snowmy Kromer dates back to the 1960s, with the annual tradition of constructing a giant snowman to celebrate the season and draw visitors to the heart of Minocqua, WI. This beloved custom has not only become a staple of local culture but also a testament to the town's collaborative spirit (Snowmy's Story).

  • Crafting a Winter Landmark: The construction of Snowmy is a feat of community effort and engineering. Schrom Excavating lends its services for the heavy lifting, while the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce, alongside dedicated volunteers, shape the snowman's tiers by hand. The Fire Department plays a crucial role by solidifying Snowmy with 25,000 gallons of water, ensuring he stands tall throughout the winter season. Snowmy's features, including his black eyes, smile, and blue buttons, are crafted from painted scrap wood and cardboard, adding to his rustic charm (Snowmy's Construction).

  • The Impact of a Snowman: Since its re-introduction back in 2015, Snowmy Kromer has not only captured the hearts of those in the town of Minocqua but also the attention of the world. The snowman's image went viral on social media, leading to a free advertising value of over $250,000. The campaign's success was further bolstered by a Facebook reach exceeding 200,000 people, proving that even in the digital age, a touch of winter whimsy can create a global sensation (Snowmy Goes Viral).


As a cherished emblem of Minocqua, Wisconsin, Snowmy Kromer stands not just as a monument to winter fun, but as a symbol of the town's enduring warmth and hospitality. Each year, depending on the bounty of snowfall, the community comes together to breathe life into this jolly giant, ensuring that the legacy of Minocqua's winter welcome continues to delight for generations to come.


Visitors to the town of Minocqua are encouraged to marvel at Snowmy's grandeur but reminded to admire from a distance to preserve his snowy splendor for as long as the weather permits.



Visit Minocqua, WI this Year at Northern Resort


Throughout this exploration of Minocqua, WI, we've witnessed the town's remarkable evolution from its humble beginnings as a logging community to its current status as a cherished resort enclave.


We've seen how Minocqua's natural beauty and resilient spirit have not only shaped its history but continue to define its present, making it a magnet for nature lovers and a repository of captivating tales. The emblematic stories of the World's Largest Penny and Snowmy Kromer highlight the profound sense of community and creativity that fuels this town's enduring charm.


The legacies left by the Million Penny Parade and the towering Snowmy Kromer are reminders of what can be achieved when a community unites in a collective endeavor. Not mere tourist attractions, these symbols stand as testaments to Minocqua's heart and character.


Nitschke's Northern Resort in Minocqua Wisconsin

Interested in experiencing the charm and treasured history of Minocqua, Wisconsin yourself? Make plans to stay at Nitschke's Northern Resort - a year-round destination for family fun and adventure!


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